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Warsaw Intl. Film Festival

Fest is big for Eastern European filmmakers

With its roots in the days of perestroika, the Warsaw Intl. Film Fest has creds throughout Eastern Europe as a locus for filmmakers finding their voice.

But the 23rd edition, featuring a focus on Estonian film — which has scored berths at Cannes, Venice and Karlovy Vary — will see new developments in marketing, too, says topper Stefan Laudyn:

“The next three years should bring a change in WIFF positioning on the map of festival. We intend to develop the business side of the fest, to make it one of Warsaw’s top attractions, and to make the East-West relations a two-way street.”

To that end, a partnership with the L.A.-based rights database Film Finders hopes to send more pics from Eastern Europe abroad.

Fest will also feature its third edition of the CentEast market, running Oct. 17-21 and specializing in regional pics. As for fest’s mission, Laudyn says, “Films about people and for people is our motto.”

Also key is promoting Eastern European films, thin on the ground these days in Polish theaters, to appreciative crowds. Past winners such as Czech comic romancer “Loners” by David Ondricek, “Kontroll” by Hungary’s Nimrod Antal and “Euphoria” by Russia’s Ivan Vyrypaev have gone on to theatrical distrib.

After its launch in 1985, the Warsaw fest grew into Poland’s main film event, reaching a level last year that brought 157 Polish premieres, eight screens and 92,000 spectators. Fest revolves around the funky Kinoteka, a multiplex based in the Palace of Culture, “a 1950s gift from the Soviet nation to Poland, which the recipient couldn’t refuse,” as Laudyn puts it.

Fest has set its sights on the hulking 2,800-seat Congress Hall now, and is big enough these days to fill it. Entries this year range from Tamara Jenkins’ “The Savages” and Adrienne Shelley’s “Waitress” to Andrzej Jakimowski’s “Sztuczki” (Tricks).

FEST INFO

When: Oct. 12-21

Web: wff.pl

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